05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Monday, September 17, 2012

Seasoning my Writing

by Christy Carlyle

      Autumn is my favorite season. I think it must have something to do with the fact that I was born in the fall. So, as a child, I always came to associate the season with good things: my birthday, the return of cool weather, the beauty of leaves turning, and the start of a new school year. I still look forward to those aspects of the seasons. I love the scent of autumn and lately I can smell that change, that turning from summer to fall, in the air. You should see how excited I get when I spot a leaf that has gone from green to orange or red a little earlier than its mates!

        I like the season so much that I find I often use it as a backdrop for my writing. In considering this post, I realized that I set my stories’ action in autumn more often than any other season. This nudged me to start thinking about how seasons can play an important role as an element of setting. Have you ever read a story in which a snowstorm forced the hero and heroine together? Does a summer backdrop offer an opportunity for beach scenes, long days, and sultry nights?

          The traditional symbolism of the seasons also plays a role when I choose to set a story during a particular time of the year. One of my manuscripts in progress has a theme of redemption and forgiveness. I set the key resolution scenes of the story during the winter because I invariably associate the late days of winter and the holidays with these themes. Then again, it seems I don’t always follow convention as other authors, historically, have used winter to symbolize death or lack of hope. Likewise, autumn can symbolize either a waning or a time of satisfaction, when hard work finally leads to harvest.  

      As autumn is my favorite season, I know it will keep popping up as a backdrop in my writing. However, when plotting, I also try to be aware of how the seasons and their accompanying weather might play a role in the action of the story. Setting is secondary to the romance, of course, but occasionally I want my readers to feel the cool breezes of autumn or relate to the incessant drizzle of a spring day. 

     Do you use seasons to invest your writing with their symbolism or enhance your theme? Alternately, as a reader, have you seen authors use weather or seasons in this way?


Paty Jager said...

Great post, Christy! I have several books where I made a conscious effort to have a specific season because I felt it symbolized the story. My short story, Christmas Redemption is one. The second Spirit book I wanted the Nez Perce to travel to their winter home during the story. I not only want to show the change of seasons but the change in the characters attitudes.

Judith Ashley said...

Interesting post, Christy. I've focused more on the events of the season than the weather or season itself. As a reader, I do see the subtle and not-so-subtle use of seasons in stories. The classic being the snow storm throwing the hero and heroine together.

Roxy Boroughs said...

I love autumn. Maybe because my birthday is at the end of September. Probably because I always equated it going back to school with the start of a new year.

Both of my romantic suspense books take place in autumn. It provided the perfect atmosphere - shorter days, chillier nights, falling leaves, everything going dormant and awaiting spring's rebirth.

Christy Carlyle said...

Thanks, Paty! I loved that you used the change in seasons to echo your characters' change in attitude. Those kinds of devices and layers in a story enrich it for me exponentially.

Christy Carlyle said...

Yes, Judith. Great point. The events of particular seasons (Thanksgiving and Christmas spring instantly to mind) and watching characters share those events can be a wonderful part of a romance novel.

Christy Carlyle said...

Hi Roxy :) As an autumn-lover, I am now completely interested in reading your romantic suspense books. I think autumn is the perfect setting too. Can't wait to see how it added atmosphere to your stories. Thanks for your comment!

Diana Mcc. said...

I guess I've done this without even thinking about it in my works in progress. I love the fall and tend to write books that take place during that time of year. Great post.

Sarah Raplee said...

Hmmm...I've set my first two books in summer, but far from the beach! My choice of seasons had more to do with plot than layering, but now I'll have to pay more attention to seasonal subtext. Great post!

Linda Lovely said...

Enjoyed this post. So far, plot has driven my choice of season for my manuscripts. For example, summer is the ONLY possibility when you're writing a book with lots of on-the-water (not on-the-ice) action in Northern Iowa. However, once I've settled on a season for reasons of plot, I do try to use it as a strong setting element. Summer used to be my favorite season. Now it's spring and fall.

Christy Carlyle said...

Thanks for the comment, Diana! It sounds like we're both autumn-lovers. :)

Christy Carlyle said...

Thanks, Sarah. Seasonal subtext is a great way to describe it. Thinking about this topic for the blog post has really made me more aware of all the possibilities.

Christy said...

Thanks for your comment, Linda. I can see why summer would work best for a story set in Northern Iowa and that takes place on the water. As a midwestern girl, I totally get it. :)

Cathryn Cade said...


Fabulous post. Can't wait to read your full-length stories, as anyone who writes so eloquently of setting as sub-text will surely use it to the fullest.

I love read stories with season as subtext. My Hawaiian stories def have the weather/climate if not season, as a major plot element, especially my WIP, in which the heroine can manipulate the weather.

This could be wishful thinking on my part! Wish I could bring the rain to Montana and dispel the late summer dust and forest fire smoke.